Commentary

FX's 'Versace' Joins Parade Of True-Crime Content On Cable

For more than a year, it's been the biggest craze on cable: Mining the last two decades for true-crime content.

The output -- and its redundancy -- has been truly breathtaking. The trend has resulted in numerous dramatizations and/or documentaries about JonBenet Ramsey, Biggie and Tupac, O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson, the Menendez brothers and others.

The true-crime content from the most notorious crime stories of the ’90s and 2000s has been seen on ABC, NBC, FX, A&E, Investigation Discovery and more, with many of the projects intersecting and colliding with each other.

No sooner does one network announce an upcoming Tupac docuseries than another network comes up with one too. This scenario has been repeated with most of the true-crime subjects that have been exhumed recently to be retold on television.

The trend continues with this week's premiere of the “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” on FX (Wednesday night at 10 Eastern), although this is one story that has not yet been retold recently.

Another one coming soon is the Paramount Network's six-part dramatization of the deadly 1993 siege in Waco, Texas. “Waco” premieres next week on Wednesday, January 24.

Four days later, on Sunday, January 28, A&E will premiere the first part of a two-part documentary on the same subject -- the Waco siege and subsequent conflagration.

This week, A&E announced two new shows headlined by two TV legal personalities from the very era now being revived -- Nancy Grace and Marcia Clark.

The networks producing and airing these true-crime revivals evidently have a great deal of confidence that all of these crime stories from the last 20-plus years will draw audiences in great enough numbers to justify the cost of producing them -- even in the many instances in which rival networks are producing shows that are almost identical.

FX's “Versace” is the second installment of the network’s “American Crime Story” series which last year presented a critically acclaimed dramatization of the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is just as rich and should collect roughly the same level and number of critical accolades and award nominations, starting with the series’ two male leads, Edgar Ramirez as Versace (photo above) and Darren Criss (inset) as his murderer, Andrew Cunanan. Their performances are exercises in perfection.

Cunanan shot Versace to death outside his Miami Beach mansion in broad daylight on a quiet morning as Versace was returning from a short walk around the neighborhood on July 15, 1997.

FX's limited series about the murder, what led up to it, and what transpired afterward will air in nine parts. Filmed largely on location in Miami Beach, this series is a dazzler.

A great deal of effort was apparently expended to re-create Versace's world. Just having an opportunity to take in the décor and the costumes would have been reason enough to recommend this series.

But everything else about it rises to the same high standard -- including the performances of everyone else in the cast (among them Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace), the script, the cinematography and all other aspects of its production.

Like the first “American Crime Story” -- “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” -- “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” will be one of the most talked-about TV shows of the year. It is not to be missed.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” premieres Wednesday (January 17) at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX.

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